A/N: Warning, there is some politically incorrect language in this chapter. I beg artistic license and state emphatically that I hold no prejudices against anyone whatsoever.

Chapter 16 – Molotovs on the Side

Tightly clustered for protection, the band headed for Ironfist's bus. Nobody else was in sight as Robin found the right key and unlocked the door. As he walked up the steps, he half expected Chavo or one of Nikas' bandmates to confront him, but the front lounge was empty. David went with Robin to the back as the rest of the band kept watch.

The rear lounge door was locked. "Psst! Hey, it's me, the guy you were talking to earlier!" Robin called out through the thin wooden barrier. David shot him a confused look. "I'll explain later," Robin told him under his breath.

After a few tense seconds the door slowly opened a few inches. The Asian girl's face appeared, fearfully peering through the crack. "Oh, it's you! Oh, thank god!" she cried out, her face lighting up under the cuts and bruises.

"Uh…yeah," Robin replied, wondering why she seemed to recognize him. "Anyway, let's get the hell out of here! C'mon!"

The girl bit her lower lip anxiously. "I'm naked! They took my clothes, remember?"

Robin and David exchanged a frustrated glance. "Oh yeah, you did tell me that, didn't you?" the singer replied sheepishly. "Hang on, we'll look around for something you can wear."

They quickly ransacked the bunks and turned up a black tee shirt and a pair of sweatpants that probably belonged to the Ironfist drummer, who was on the short side. Robin thrust the clothes through the door, begging the girl to hurry. It took less than a minute for her to get dressed and let herself out the back room.

"Thank you again for coming to get me, Robin," the girl breathed, gazing up at him admiringly. The top of her head just reached his collarbone.

"How did you know my name was—?"

David cut Robin off abruptly. "You can thank him later," the guitarist told the girl as he motioned for them to follow him off the bus.

Once outside, the little rescue party ducked behind the buses so they wouldn't be visible from the parking lot. They passed by Nikas' still unconscious form.

"Is he dead?" Mike asked, prodding the bassist's muscular body with a toe.

Jhon leaned down for a better look. "Nah, just out cold. Robin, what the hell did you do to knock him out like that?"

"I dunno! I just popped him on the head with the hilt of the dagger and boom! Down he went," Robin replied in a befuddled yet proud-sounding tone.

"Wait, right on the top of the head?" Mike asked, pointing to a spot on his own head. "Hardcore!" he exclaimed when Robin nodded yes. "My Muy Thai instructor said that there's a big bundle of nerves right there. Hit someone hard enough on that spot and they're down for the count!"

"Guess it was a lucky shot," Robin mumbled as they began walking away. Nobody spoke again until they were safely on their bus, all blinds and privacy curtains drawn.

"So now what do we do?" Robin asked, chewing on his lip ring as he sat down. He couldn't keep his legs from bouncing with nerves. It was obvious to his bandmates that he was still keyed up from the fight. Instinctively, David got a strawberry soda from the refrigerator and handed it to him wordlessly.

Daniel ran a hand through his red-and-black streaked hair, looking humorless for a change. "Good question. My vote is to actually call the cops this time. I think we have enough evidence to press serious charges against those guys now."

Jhon began tapping his fingers on the tabletop in front of him. "Do we do it now, or get out of here first before the rest of Ironfist comes back and starts a fuckin' war with us?"

A heated debate broke out among the band members and crew. Several people wanted to split and call the police later, several others wanted to call them now, and Mike wanted to "ditch all this crazy fuckin' bullshit and go the hell home."

"I mean, let's face it! As soon as Nikas wakes up he's gonna go on the warpath! And we may as well just get on the first train to Hell 'cause we're toast!" the bassist wailed.

"I'll do it so you guys don't have to get involved."

Everyone broke off speaking to stare at the girl, who had been silently standing near the front door until that moment. She took a step forward. "I'll tell them the truth: that Ironfist was holding me against my will and you guys helped me. And that Robin had to defend himself when Nikas tried to assault him. I saw it all from the window," she assured them, sounding amazingly confident for someone who had just been through an ordeal of physical and emotional abuse.

"Hey, how do you know my name anyway?" Robin couldn't help asking. "And what's yours?"

"It's Stella," the girl informed them. "I saw you guys play for the first time a few nights ago and totally loved your songs, but when I tried to get backstage to meet you, that…Chavo guy brought me to meet Nikas instead. I went along with him at first 'cause I always thought he was hot, but I really wanted to hang out with you all. He hates you guys, by the way."

"We know," the band chorused as one.

"There's always a police car parked near the backstage gates as long as there's buses parked back here. Let's go see them right now," Stella urged them, a pleading expression on her pretty face.

David and Jhon volunteered to find the police officers and quickly departed. "She seems to know a lot about this place," Jhon quipped once they were out of earshot from the rest.

"She struck me as the groupie type the first time I saw her," David agreed. "Not that she deserved to have something like that happen to her," he added hastily when his drummer shot him a sideways look.

Just as Stella had said, a city police car was parked unobtrusively several yards away from the rolling backstage entrance gate. One of the officers, a stern African-American who appeared to be in his 40s, rolled down the window and listened as Jhon quickly ran down the situation. After hearing the words "kidnapped", "assault" and "drugged", the police officer behind the wheel picked up his radio and muttered a few codes along with their location. While he was talking, a taxi van drove through the gates carrying the rest of Ironfist and Chavo. They were far enough away that they didn't seem to notice the Red Knights members talking to the police, but David's pulse ran up sharply nonetheless.

"Oh, hell," he muttered under his breath. "It's about to get intense."

"If you guys would wait on your bus with the girl who said she was kidnapped, one of us will be over to take your statements once we get some backup here," the African-American officer told them in a not-unkind voice. "We'll go to the other bus – you said they're called Ironfist? Hmmf! – and deal with them first. Shouldn't be too long."

Jhon and David trudged across the parking lot, keeping as far from the other bus as possible. "So much for Ironfist being revered by law enforcement, huh? Right next door to their hometown and those guys had no clue who they were," Jhon quipped with a tight smile.

David quickly glanced over at the spot where Natas had fallen, but he was no longer there. "Shit," he murmured again, biting his lip nervously.

They let themselves back on the bus, making sure to lock the door behind them. "Cops are on the way," David informed everyone. "Let's just keep the lights off and sit tight."

"Do we have any beer left?" Robin asked forlornly, huddled with his arms around his knees in a corner of a couch.

Jhon shook his head warningly. "You don't wanna drink a drop of alcohol right now. Ironfist could use that in their defense, claim you attacked Nikas because you were drunk. Just stick to the soda."

A loud thwack! at the window behind Daniel and Mike's backs made everyone jump and Robin drop his drink. "Hey, Jew York faggot motherfuckers!" a male voice shouted from outside. "Get your poser asses out here now so we can kick 'em back up North!"

"Looks like the Ironfist guys managed to put two and two together," Shakey murmured in a wintery voice. "I am so not getting paid enough for this shit."

"Why do these racist dickheads always have it in for Jewish people?" Daniel quipped just as another rock hit the window. He and Mike moved away, fearing the glass would shatter.

"GET OUT HERE NOW OR WE'LL BURN YOUR FUCKING BUS DOWN, ASSHOLES!" the voice outside boomed again, easily audible to everyone on board.

Jhon risked a quick peek through a tiny opening in the blinds and saw the Ironfist guys, Chavo and a couple of their crew members standing near the bus. Several of them had baseball bats. Joey, the singer was brandishing a Vodka bottle with a rag jammed down its neck and a lighter. "I MEAN IT! WE WILL TORCH YOU HOMOS!" he shouted again.

"This is not good," Jhon told his bandmates as they all peered anxiously out the windows. "Hey, diesel fuel isn't really flammable, right?" he asked Mickey.

"Naw, but our generator uses gasoline and that's even easier to get to than the fuel tanks," the driver informed him in a tight voice.

"So where the fuck are the cops?" David muttered through clenched teeth. "Those guys mean business and we are sitting ducks."


"Can he even count that high?" Mike quipped humorlessly.


Jhon stood up. "There's an emergency exit at the back of the bus. Come on!"


"They might have people there waiting for us," Mike pointed out.

"It's a risk I'm willing to take," Jhon told him, already on the move, shepherding Stella before him.


Everyone else reluctantly began to follow Jhon's lead, pausing briefly to grab cell phones and iPods from their bunks. "How long before this gets on Blabbermouth?" Daniel asked aloud to nobody in particular.


Robin was the last to leave the front lounge. He couldn't resist taking a quick peek outside. Joey was quickly striding toward the bus as he flicked his lighter and held the flame to the rag on the bottle.


Robin couldn't tear his gaze away as the Ironfist singer cocked an arm back to hurl the bottle into the generator. Suddenly a blaze of blue and red caught his eye. A convoy of police cars came hurtling through the open backstage gates and screeched to a halt a dozen yards away from the bus. Joey dropped the bottle, which burst harmlessly into flame for a few seconds, singing the leg of his jeans. The other men dropped their baseball bats but didn't get far before the police officers collectively opened their doors and used them as shields as they unsheathed their pistols and aimed toward the attackers' heads.

"Guys! The cavalry's here!" Robin called out, grinning gleefully as one by one, the Ironfist band and crew members dropped to their knees and laced their hands behind their heads on the orders of a policeman with a bullhorn.

iWe're safe…for now,/i he thought as everyone began streaming back into the front lounge. iBut I still have to wonder what the hell we got ourselves into? And how is the rest of the scene going to react once this story gets out? I bet everybody else is going to think we're trouble magnets and not want to take us on tours from here on./i

He caught Stella's eye as she passed by. She gave him such a sweet smile that he couldn't resist returning it. iI guess if it means that they won't rape and torture any more girls, it's worth it in the end. No matter how it all falls out./i

Suddenly feeling exhausted, he went to his bunk and crawled in, intent on catching a quick nap until it was his turn to talk to the police.